When you're working on a piece and need to keep it straight and steady, a vise can quickly become your best friend. A bench vise attaches to a workbench and tightly holds materials, like a piece of wood or metal, in place for sanding, filing, hammering, sawing, and more. However, you have to choose carefully, as some vises are far stronger and more durable than others. There are also some key features that you should consider before making the purchase, such as the jaw dimensions, throat depth to find a bench vice that works for you. We've found the best bench vises in 2021 and ranked them according to their features, durability, and reviews from other users. Keep reading to find out which ones are worth investing in for your workshop!
Go into any woodworking shop in the world, and you will see a bench vise. In fact, you’ll probably find one on every workbench on the floor. These nifty devices are a carpenter’s best friend when they’re crafting pretty much anything. Bench vises are like an extra pair of hands when you need to keep a piece of wood in place. Bench vises are also extremely popular in the mechanic industry. But do you know anything about buying them? We’ve put together this handy guide to help you know what to look out for when shopping for a bench vise.
What Is a Bench Vise?
A bench vise is a piece of mechanical equipment used to fix an object in place, ready to be worked on. Bench vises are built with two parallel jaws that lock a piece of wood or metal sheet, so it cannot move. You are most likely to find these apparatuses in a carpenter’s workshop or a garage or factory.
Which Type of Bench Vise Do I Need?
There are lots of different bench vises for different workplace environments. For example, plumbers will use a pipe bench vise that features specially-designed jaws to hold pipes. These are available with chains or yoke.
There are also metalworking and woodworking bench vises (usually heavy- or medium-duty) that have their own applications relating to those specific industries - although some woodworking vises can be used in metalwork as well.
How Can You Stay Safe When Using a Bench Vise?
Obviously, worker safety is of paramount importance when using a bench vise. If you plan to buy one, you will do well if you follow certain procedures to ensure you do not harm yourself in the process.
Always cover your face
This is the general rule of thumb for any job you do in your workshop. Make sure you cover your face (including your eyes) with safety glasses and a shield. Nobody wants to go to the emergency room with a piece of plywood stuck in their cheek.
Double-check the bench vise is secure
Even if you have already checked, it’s a good idea to make sure the bench vise is secured to the table, and all the bolts are in the right place, especially if somebody else uses your workshop as well.
Keep the stationary jaw beyond the end of the workbench
You do not want any long pieces of wood interfering with your task. That is why you should ensure the stationary jaw of the bench vise is kept over the edge of your work table. Also, you should always check that your table can take the strain of the bench vise and whatever you are working on. However, most quality workbenches should have no problem with any carpentry or mechanic tasks.
Don’t give the bench vise more than it can handle
Depending on the bench vise, it will only work properly if you ensure the material size is compatible. In other words, don’t try to clamp an entire door with a $20 bench vise.
Always check the clamping
It’s a good idea to check the vise’s clamping on your workbench before diving straight into your material. If the clamp is faulty, you could injure yourself or ruin the material and have to start again.
Do not widen the jaws more than necessary
Bench vises are designed to widen to a certain length. If you try to extend them further for a thick piece of material, you risk damaging the vise or hurting yourself. The opposite is also true: do not tighten the bench vise more than necessary.
What should I consider before buying a bench vise?
There are several factors to take into account when purchasing a bench vise. Some of them include:
Many industries benefit from a bench vise in the workplace. Carpenters, welders, and machinists require a heavy-duty model to handle a lot of materials and tasks. If you buy a bench vise for home use, you do not need more than a 4 or 5-inch tool for DIY jobs. The inches denote the jaw length from end to end.
The throat of a bench vise is the distance from the top of the slide to the top of the jaws. If a bench vise has a long throat, it can hold large workpieces without any hassle. Before making a purchase, unwind the bench vise as far it will go to ensure it can cope with the required tasks.
No two bench vise models are the same. If you compare them side by side, they may look similar, but one may feel much heftier than the other. If you need a bench vise that can take a beating when working on a workpiece, you want to invest in one that is well-constructed. You may also want to consider if your workbench is sturdy enough to support one of the heavier bench vise models.
How Much Do Bench Vises Cost?
Bench vises vary in price depending on their usage, construction, and design. If you require a bench vise for small DIY jobs around the home, you can find them for as little as $30, sometimes even less. However, industry-standard bench vises are going to cost extra.
You can expect to pay up to $600 for the very best bench vises on the market. Typically, the most popular bench vise will be priced between $50 - $150. No matter your price point, you will be able to find a bench vise that should serve you well.
A: Bench vises are designed for workbenches that are strong enough to take the weight of both the vise and the workpiece. Generic tables are not built with the adequate support required for these sorts of jobs, but if you have no alternative, make sure you do plenty of checks to ensure there is no risk of damaging the vise, the surface, or yourself.
Q: How big should my bench vise be?
A: The size of the bench vise depends on how you plan to use it. If you are only doing DIY projects, you can use a small, lightweight vise. For more industrial jobs, you’ll need a bigger vise that can handle more heavy-duty tasks.
Q: How should I maintain a bench vise?
A: The maintenance of your bench vise is crucial for its longevity. Besides wiping the tool clean after every use, you can also remove the slide every once in a while to grease the spindle for easy tightening and releasing.
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